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article imageUS embassy official in Chile won't testify on terror suspect

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 24, 2010 in World
Santiago - The consular official who escorted Pakistani citizen Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman Khan at the US Embassy in Chile before his arrest on weapons charges has not testified in the case, claiming diplomatic immunity.
Consular official William Whitaker identified himself as "Mr. Bill" at the time he led Pakistani national Mr. Rehman Khan to a small room in the embassy compound. Later he asked to photocopy his documents and requested to have his cellular phone. He left, leaving the door locked. About half an hour later Mr. Khan was arrested by personnel from the embassy on charges that traces of Tetryl, a rare explosive material, had been detected in his phone.
The American consul, who was instrumental in the arrest of Mr. Khan, has not testified before the prosecution, claiming that embassy officials who participated in the arrest have diplomatic immunity. With this, it remains unclear why Whitaker called Khan to the embassy and what details of his background were available to the US Embassy.
The prerogative allows diplomats to avoid trials and investigations in foreign countries, and they can only be requested to answer questions in the courts of their own country.
Upon his arrest, Mr. Khan was formalized on charges of violation of the law of arms and explosives and the Chilean Ministry of Interior further charged him on grounds of a terrorist conspiracy linked to radical Islamic groups. Chilean police proceeded to investigate Mr. Khan’s residence, belongings and connections, and did not find sufficient evidence to maintain his detention. He has been released, detained again, and released a second time by the Court of Guarantees. Later, the Court of Appeals confirmed his provisional release on 8 June. Mr. Khan must remain in Chile until the end of the investigation. The refusal of Embassy officials to testify impairs bringing this matter to a close.
Although embassy officials had refused to testify, Mr. Stanley Stoy, the FBI representative in Chile, voluntarily gave up immunity and allowed a few questions. According to sources from the Public Ministry, in this occasion Mr. Stoy spoke only obliquely of what happened during the security operation at the embassy. When asked about details of the procedure, he apologized saying that those were internal matters of the embassy.
Mr. Khan, is 28-year-old, he studied hotel management in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in the UK. He said that a former teacher had suggested to him to travel to Chile to study Spanish and work in a hotel. Before traveling to Chile, he visited a brother in the United States using an American visa.
After arriving in Santiago, he got a room in a boarding house and enrolled in a six-week Spanish language course. Later, he got a job at a hotel to work as a front desk clerk. He got a few friends, was attending a local mosque and started dating a Chilean woman.
“I was living a normal life,” he said in an interview.
On May 7, several Americans visited the mosque at the time he was just ending his prayers. They wanted to talk with someone at the mosque who could speak English. “They said they wanted to talk about religion”, Mr. Khan declared.
Three days later, on May 10, he responded to the request of the US embassy to bring his documents for verification and was arrested on charges of possession of explosives and being suspected of terrorism.
Note: See DJ report on Rehman Khan's detention at the US Embassy in Chile.
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